Information, Meaning and Physics: The Intellectual Transformation of the English School of Information Theory during 1946-1956.

Science in Context (forthcoming)

Javier Anta
Universitat de Barcelona
In this comparative historical analysis, we will analyze the intellectual tendency that emerged between 1946 and 1956 to take advantage of the popularity of communication theory to develop a kind of informational epistemology of statistical mechanics. We will argue that this tendency results from a historical confluence in the early 1950s of certain theoretical claims of the so-called English School of Information Theory, championed by authors such as Gabor (1956) or MacKay (1969), and the search to extend the profound success of Shannon's (1948) technical theory of sign transmission to the field of statistical thermal physics. As a paradigmatic example of this tendency, we will evaluate the intellectual work of Léon Brillouin (1956), who developed in the mid-fifties a information-theoretical approach to statistical mechanical physics based on a concept of information linked to the knowledge of the observer.
Keywords Information Theory  Claude Shannon  Leon Brillouin  Statistical Mechanics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,579
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Some Evidence Concerning the Genesis of Shannon’s Information Theory.Samuel W. Thomsen - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):81-91.
A Philosopher Against the Bandwagon. Carnap and the Informationalization of Thermal Physics.Javier Anta - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
Getting the Most Out of Shannon Information.Oliver M. Lean - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):395-413.
Information, Genetics and Entropy.Julio Ernesto Rubio Barrios - 2015 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 19 (1):121.
The Semantics Latent in Shannon Information.M. C. Isaac Alistair - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):103-125.
Bohmian Mechanics and Quantum Information.Sheldon Goldstein - 2010 - Foundations of Physics 40 (4):335-355.
The Transmission Sense of Information.Carl T. Bergstrom & Martin Rosvall - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):159-176.
What is Quantum Information?Olimpia Lombardi, Federico Holik & Leonardo Vanni - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 56:17-26.
The Informational Turn in Philosophy.Frederick Adams - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (4):471-501.
A Generalization of Shannon's Information Theory.Chenguang Lu - 1999 - Int. J. Of General Systems 28 (6):453-490.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes